Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists In Foxholes

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

There are atheists in foxholes. There are atheist soldiers, atheist police officers, atheist firefighters. Danger and impending death do not automatically make atheists convert to religious belief. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. says

    I recently had a stroke. In a matter of about twenty seconds, I found myself laying face down on the floor, aware I’d had a stroke and unable to get to the phone.
    There was a clear possibility that I might die right there (if not the most likely outcome), and being unable to move, I had time to think about it.
    There was no religious impulse at all. Not even a vague wish that it might be true. It wasn’t even remotely on the radar.
    Now, it’s not the same thing as being shot at, true enough, but the imminent possibility of death that you have no control over is itself not necessarily an urge toward religious faith – once you’re free of the meme, it doesn’t seem to be there at all.

  2. Maria says

    I agree with efrique. Back in 1989 I was in a quite severe car crash. I stepped out of the totally wrecked car with only a few scratches. It generated no thoughts about god at all, or any superstitious feelings around having been ‘saved’, or it being ‘a miracle’ or anything like that.
    The ‘no atheists in foxholes’ argument is really silly because it seems to imply that atheists haven’t, well… lived! We can’t have had any hard, traumatic, saddening, tragic or otherwise difficult experiences, can we? Oh no, because then we would have at once turned to god in our despair and no longer be atheistsm wouldn’t we? So, the way THEY see it, they seem to think that atheism is some sort of “luxury position” that only sheltered and spoiled people can afford to play around with. As soon as something bad happens though, we will again ‘turn to god’.
    It’s extremely silly! Just as the meme mentions, atheists are all sort of people, and between us is the whole wide spectrum of what it means to be human – not only the good things in life, but all the bad things too. Among us we have had all the difficult and hard experiences that happens to humans. Accidents, sudden deaths, illnesses… And we didn’t need god to help us through it. We needed other people! That’s exactly what believers need too, but they often choose not to acknowledge some of the help and support they get from other people, but choose to thank god instead.

  3. Valhar2000 says

    So, the way THEY see it, they seem to think that atheism is some sort of “luxury position” that only sheltered and spoiled people can afford to play around with.

    Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. Ask Greta to quote some of the replies she gets to that in Facebook, and I guarantee you some of them will make this argument (probably using worse grammar).

  4. Maria says

    Ask Greta to quote some of the replies she gets to that in Facebook, and I guarantee you some of them will make this argument
    Yes, please, Greta, do that. That would be interesting :-)

  5. says

    What I hate about that saying is how gloating and sadistic it is. What kind of person feels spiritual satisfaction at the thought of picturing somebody terrified out of disagreeing with them?

  6. Sue DeNimme says

    If someone only becomes a believer under duress, then how sincere can their belief possibly be? Religious people never seem to have thought of that before trotting out the “no atheists in foxholes” chestnut.

  7. Maria says

    Since so many believers so often bring up Pascal’s wager as well, I guess a sincere belief isn’t really that important to them.

  8. says

    Also, even if there were almost no atheists in foxholes, so what? All that would show is that in desperate moments humans are willing to try things that have a small chance of success. So even if one believes the statement it is in no way an argument against atheism.
    I think that part of what may be happening is this may be connected to the claim that some theists make that everyone deep inside believes in God and they just don’t like admitting it. If one believes that then one might believe that atheists stop with that facade when they really need to. Silly, but consistent with the premises.
    When someone says that there are no atheists in foxholes one should ask them what they mean and what they think it implies. Then tear them to shreds. But make sure you understand which meaning they are using.
    p.s. I think there aren’t any anti-fairies in foxholes. Have you ever seen someone under fire stop to say that they don’t believe in elves? Obviously this is evidence for the existence of the fey.

  9. Nurse Ingrid says

    I second efrique and maria. I’ve never been in a foxhole, but I have had a gun pointed at me by a mugger. The exact thought that went through my head was, “Wow. My life could be snuffed out in an instant. Feeling a little small and insignificant here.” But I sure didn’t think about any sky daddy, and until this discussion it didn’t even occur to me that some people would think that I would have. I agree with Maria that the implication is that atheists haven’t really “lived.” Bah.

  10. John the Drunkard says

    A story I heard in re Vietnam:
    At a listening post outside some fortification, the two men on duty hear NVA sappers creeping through the wire. One soldier lapses into panic, mumbling prayers to Jesus while the other hits the field telephone and starts shooting to alert their comrades.
    The next day, Sunday, a chaplain shows up and dusts off the ‘atheists in foxholes’ trope.
    He is interrupted: ‘You all better be glad there was an atheist in a foxhole last night. Otherwise you’d all be dead!’

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